Online dating

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 27 May 2008

Those looking for love on the internet are spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for something serious, a bit of a fling or just a virtual flirt then you can select profiles that interest you in just a few clicks. Here’s our advice.

Those looking for love on the internet are spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for something serious, a bit of a fling or just a virtual flirt then you can select profiles that interest you in just a few clicks. Here’s our advice.

Types of sites
Some sites are very clear at the outset that they are intended for certain types of encounters! Others are based on compatibility and similar interests. The best known (Meetic, Match, etc.) look a bit like an online supermarket, with a large range of choice, so you need time to shop around! Some sites offer to put you in touch with compatible people after you take a personality test.

How to choose a site
Many sites are free but don’t necessarily offer all the services you need to meet people who are likely to interest you. If you’ve decided to invest in your search for love online then paid sites can be better. Here are a few criteria to look out for:
- Automatic selection of profiles that match yours. Once your registration is validated the site automatically searches for people who meet your criteria. This saves you trawling through hundreds of monstrous profiles, but may overlook interesting ones too.
- The possibility to chat live or by email. It all depends whether you prefer taking your time to read your emails or you'd rather get to know people by live chat.
- Restricted access to your profile in relation to certain criteria. This can limit your number of matches to quality ones!
- Verification of information. This is offered by some sites to prevent people from hiding certain embarrassing details about themselves.
Note that a lot of sites offer free services for women, as men tend to use dating sites far more.

For and against online dating
Advantages
- According to some statistics, 80% of users meet someone and a lot of happy endings come from online dating. The internet allows you to meet people you'd never have come across otherwise and get to know them before meeting them in real life.
- People who have recently come out of relationships or been hurt can get a confidence boost by seeing the interest their profile creates!
- Dating sites make it clear what members are looking for (dating, friendship, companionship, a serious relationship etc).
Disadvantages
- The quantity of profiles can cause a certain consumerist attitude and can make you wait for the 'right' match to come up.
- A virtual encounter on the net can lead to dreams and expectations, as well as the temptation to change aspects of yourself to match your prospective date! This also works both ways, so you may be disappointed by a real-life encounter.

How to move from the virtual to the real world
You’ve been talking on the net for a long time, you’ve exchanged numbers and set the date. You're excited about meeting your mystery Prince Charming...but how do you cope with meeting him for the first time?
- Be very selective beforehand. Of course, sorting through endless profiles isn't exactly romantic and makes you feel like you're looking through candidates for a job... but it can save a lot of hassle. If you're looking for someone cultivated and intelligent, you don’t go for the guy whose email is full of spelling mistakes!
- Asking for a photo can prevent disappointment. Online dating isn't magic! It doesn't make up for the time you need to get over a break-up. A serious relationship requires self-confidence and independence.
- When you meet him for the first time, don't have too many hopes and expectations. He's not there to fill a gap in your life or to satisfy all your needs: you’re meeting him to get to know him better and then maybe something more. The internet makes the first encounter and contact easier but doesn't replace the need to get to know someone and allow them into your life step by step. If you both want to take things further, then's the time to start thinking about the next step, but on your first date just enjoy getting to know each other.

In the meantime, let yourself be wooed, especially if you didn't play hard to get for the first date. Take time to really get to know each other - it’s the best way to avoid disappointment!

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